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Meeting on ‘off leash hours’ set for Thursday night

PHOENIX — A group of dog owners want some changes at Phoenix city parks.

“Mitch” the dog loves to play with his owner. Mike Goers said his collie is “just a good ole mutt.”

“He’s a good frisbee dog,” Goers said. “He’s very obedient. He climbs trees in the park. He sits, stays, comes. He’s just a blast!”

They live in Paradise Valley. The nearest dog park is at Cave Creek and Grovers, seven miles away from their house. Instead, Goers and his dog take their frisbee and join other owners and their unleashed dogs at a nearby park.

But letting a dog go unleashed is against Arizona law, except in a fenced in dog park. Police moved in on Goers and other dog owners at his neighborhood park last month.

“A plain-clothed spotter came out, detained me, then radioed in squad cars from other locations to get other people in the park,” Goers said. “It was a planned event.”

Goers called the show of force excessive.

After paying a $100 fine, Goers started working to try and change things at parks. He created the Phoenix Puppy Power Facebook page, where he and his “friends” have been talking about setting up “off leash” hours at city parks.

The Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department said its hands are tied because of the Arizona state law.

Goers wonders if there’s a way around that.

“Cities do not comply with state statutes all of the time. States do not comply with federal statutes all of the time,” Goers said. “I’d like to find out if we can move forward, and, if possible, talk about this.”

That talking will happen Thursday. The Parks Department will hold two public meetings. The first is at 6:30 p.m., where the possibility of an unleashed dog run in Desert Horizon park will be discussed. Then, at 7:30 p.m., they’ll be talking about the possibility of the “off leash” hours at city parks.

Both of Thursday’s meetings are at the Paradise Valley Community Center at 17402 North 40th Street in Phoenix.